I spoke the other night at Brandeis University, as usual under the auspices of College Republicans and with no institutional or faculty sponsorship. As fate would have it, there were two other events with speakers that evening, one an anti-Israel activist named Hedy Epstein, who was sponsored by the Peace, Conflict Resolution and Co-existence Department, and the other a radical professor from Yeshiva University, named Ellen Schrecker. Schrecker, who in the past has gone out of her way to attack me for objecting to the injection of political agendas into academic classrooms, was speaking about her new book, The Lost Soul of Higher Education, which is a defense of indoctrination (the “lost soul” in the title refers to the alleged “corporatization” of the university and its interests). While my talk was a faculty orphan, Schrecker’s was sponsored by the following Brandeis departments: Education, History, Women’s and Gender Studies, Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, Sociology, Anthropology, English, Legal Studies and Journalism.
This little disparity tells you all you really need to know about the intellectual orientation of academic faculties and their disrespect for conservative students. For the failure of any academic department at Brandeis to sponsor the talk of a well-known university critic who has written five books presenting a conservative view response to authors like Schrecker was not an oversight. My student hosts had approached these or similar departments and asked them to sponsor my talk and been rebuffed. Nor is this an unusual occurrence. I have spoken at roughly 400 universities in the last 20 years and at only two have I been invited by members of the faculty, and only one by a department. This is one – and only one — of the reasons it grieves me to see conservatives refer to their antagonists, whose deepest passions are censorious and totalitarian, as “liberals.”
As a matter of fact, I would have welcomed the opportunity to share a platform with Professor Schrecker, who despite her intolerant attitudes and collectivist prejudices sits on the academic freedom committee of the American Association of University Professors. This would have been a special pleasure because her new book confirms everything I have written or said about the contemporary university, although when I do, I am condemned by Shrecker and her colleagues as a liar who has made the up the facts and as a witch-hunter — “worse than McCarthy,” as a story by Schrecker described me on the cover of the Chronicle of Higher Education.
For nearly a decade it has been my claim, which I have documented in four books — The Professors, Indoctrination U., One Party Classroom and the recently published Reforming Our Universities — that entire academic fields, newly created in the post-1960s era, are not in fact academic but are political parties, now entrenched in our universities, whose mission is the indoctrination and recruitment of students to leftwing political agendas. I have identified these fields as Women’s Studies, African American Studies, Peace Studies, Cultural Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, and similar inter-disciplinary subjects, and have deplored how they have spread their malign influence into other academic areas including all the Brandeis departments that chose to sponsor Schrecker’s talk and withhold support from mine.
And here is how Ellen Schrecker in her book describes the creation of the two new academic fields that pioneered the debasement of the university curriculum: “What women’s studies did have in common with African American studies, however, was its connection to a major social movement. The field grew directly out of second-wave feminism; it was, one scholar noted, ‘the educational arm of the women’s liberation movement.’ As such, it had a strong political agenda, one that was readily embraced by its early practitioners, former New Left activists who viewed their teaching and research as part of the broader feminist struggle against the patriarchal oppression of women. ‘From the beginning,’ historian Marilyn Boxer explained, ‘the goal of women’s studies was not merely to study women’s position in the world but to change it.’ There was thus a ‘continuing commitment …. to advocacy – that is to political action….”
This, in a nutshell, is the Orwellian universe we now inhabit, where totalitarians and character assassins are referred to as “liberals” and where defenders of political indoctrination sit on academic freedom committees and call their critics “McCarthyites.”